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Homebuild advise needed

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July 2, 2006 7:49:13 PM

I would appreciate feedback on the following build and questions.

The PC’s main uses are 1) for work by multi-tasking common office software, 2) for pleasure by video / photo editing, and 3) for a hobby by gently tickling my interest in PCs. Since I have little interest in gaming and overclocking (beyond the automatic overclocking feature in the BIOS), I want a PC that is stable (to keep my wife happy), relatively easy to maintain (to keep me happy), somewhat on the upper end in performance and capabilities (to keep my interest active), and Windows Vista ready.

Proposed build:
1. Motherboard- Asus A8N-E
2. CPU- AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ processor
3. Memory- 2x1GB DDR PC3200 (brand undetermined)
4. DVD Burner- NEC +/-RW DL CD-RW IDE
5. Video card- XFX Geforce 6800 XTreme
6. Hard Drive- RAID 0 using 2x Western Digital Caviar 160GB SATA 3.0Gb/s
7. Case- Antec Overture II ATX Desktop Case w/450W SmartPower 2.0 ATX12V v2.01 compliant

Questions:
1. I need a desktop case in order to fit the 7” opening in my desk. Will this case accommodate the video card and provide adequate cooling? Case dimensions are 5.3"(H) x 17"(W) x 19.3"(D). Any alternative suggestions for a case / PSU?
2. I understand compatibility issues between the MB and the SmartPower PSU have been solved by having latest BIOS version and a latter serial number of the SmartPower PSU. Any comments on this issue?
3. Earlier BIOS versions do not support the Athlon 64 X2 CPUs. If by chance I received a MB with a pre-athlon 64 X2 support BIOS version, will I be able to update the BIOS with an athlon 64 X2 CPU installed in the MB?
4. Is a floppy drive necessary to do BIOS updates? I understand it is not necessary but the on-line A8N-E manual makes frequent references to a floppy drive in BIOS update procedures.
5. Is the heatsink / fan that comes with the retail version of the CPU adequate? Any recommendations on a quiet better heatsink / fan that would fit in the case is appreciated?
6. Any brand / model suggestions for a DVD burner?

I appreciate any guidance you can provide. Thanks.
July 2, 2006 8:07:38 PM

OK, the advise may be a little caustic, but since I'm 13 1/2, take no offense...

1. 939????? Even 754 is going to stay longer...and, since the price cuts, I suggest a X2 4200+ or above. THe X2 3800+ is a good. solid CPU, but it is no longer considered fast by amd's standards, and multimedia/game users.

2. Corsair XMS complies with AMD extremely well, and If you go with Socket AM2, DDR2 memory (pc5400---pc6400 advised).

3. I have used my NEC for over a year, and it's been doing extremely well.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1682...

4. Why go with a 6xxx when a 7xxx is available :)  ? the 7600 GT or X1600XT (only 10$ more!) are fine substitutes, with newer technology, and faster clock speeds, and more pipelines.

5. The packed heatsink/fans are fine if you choose not too oc heavily.
July 2, 2006 8:21:27 PM

If you are only mildly interested in gaming then I would hold off for a few weeks ang go for an Intel Conroe set-up. Any kind of multi-media functionality you would be better served with a multi-core intel CPU. Most are geared toward production work, see apple switching to intel for their next gen machines. If you are even mildly interested in gaming or think that you may have an gaming itch to scratch and are not concerned with having the absolute best next-gen top of the line product, then go with the AMD 939 or AM2 set-up. Even though AM2 is still not a proven technology it's entry level hardware is very close in price to 939 at the moment , so you could get an AM2 Asus mobo like the M2N32-SLI deluxe which is their top the line board of the moment and an AM2 dual-core 3800+ for a little more then 939 and have the ability to use DDR2 ram and upgrade without buying a new mother (intel you will most likely have too) to their 65nm quad core CPU. It will handle any multi-media functionality and pretty much any game with the proper video card set-up you can throw at it. I know that the 6800xt sounds great from a price stand point right, but interested in Vista at all either go for one really good mid range 7xxx series Nvidia or 1K ATi video card. I have a X1800GTO at the moment I bought at a local retailer for less then it's Nvidia counterpart and plan waiting for the next wave of cards before making any real, financial technological leaps. I hope I didn't make things any harder.
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July 2, 2006 9:22:24 PM

That is cool that your interest in PC's for tinkering and other jive. You would be a good candidate for a Linux box. With Linux, you don't need much hardware power. The build your thinking about seems a tad expensive. Think about switching over to Linux. There is a huge community base and things are progressing quite nicely. On the other had, you have to be realistice. Why buy expensive equipement just to play around with installing drivers and fixing problems all the time. Its going to wear you out very quickly. Why not just enjoy yourself and a few fun video games. If you were to purchase a Xbox 360 you can satisfy two craving; mild or extreme gaming and for the tinkering bug in you there are a million and one mods for the Xbox. Save yourself some money and frustration and buy a Xbox. Good luck on your decision.
July 2, 2006 11:41:15 PM

Quote:
OK, the advise may be a little caustic, but since I'm 13 1/2, take no offense...

1. 939????? Even 754 is going to stay longer...and, since the price cuts, I suggest a X2 4200+ or above. THe X2 3800+ is a good. solid CPU, but it is no longer considered fast by amd's standards, and multimedia/game users.

2. Corsair XMS complies with AMD extremely well, and If you go with Socket AM2, DDR2 memory (pc5400---pc6400 advised).

3. I have used my NEC for over a year, and it's been doing extremely well.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1682...

4. Why go with a 6xxx when a 7xxx is available :)  ? the 7600 GT or X1600XT (only 10$ more!) are fine substitutes, with newer technology, and faster clock speeds, and more pipelines.

5. The packed heatsink/fans are fine if you choose not too oc heavily.


Actually I belive that most companies have already stopped supporting 754 technology. I think that 939 is still a great option at this point.
July 3, 2006 11:19:46 AM

Quote:
There's a site called dailytech, and it seems like you've never heard of it in your life.

http://dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=2974


Yeah, sorry that I have not met my geek website quota for my entire life. A product lasting a few months longer still does not a better choice make. There is already very limited choices in retail for what is available in 754, but I can still walk in, if I choose not to buy online and get any 939 processor on the market.
July 3, 2006 11:53:42 AM

I might be criticized for saying this, but you're ignorant.

Get a clue.
July 3, 2006 5:26:40 PM

Quote:
I might be criticized for saying this, but you're ignorant.

Get a clue.


I apologize if I have upset you with my opinion, I was trying to be helpful and felt that I had been attacked for simply not having read the article. I felt as if he was saying I was stupid for having not known about said website. I meant no disrespect if I have shown disrespect.
July 3, 2006 6:10:24 PM

Dailytech.com is a fairly well-know website, if you know about tomshardware, and even visit and post on the forums, it is kind of queer that you do not know about dailytech., or, for purposes, any other website. I don't believe it is the only site with that article.


By the way, How old are you exactly?
July 3, 2006 6:20:54 PM

His post wasn't about you not knowing a website. It was about chastising you for misrepresenting your opinion as fact. This is a horrible practice, and a lot of communities would be better if it didn't exist. Rather than fight back/becoming defensive, just don't do it again.
July 3, 2006 6:23:40 PM

My point exactly.
July 3, 2006 7:00:25 PM

Thanks for rapid response. I take little offense from your direct comment and opinion because it was informative and was not arrogant. Often a valuable message can be lost by not what is said but by how it is said. If I can listen well enough I can learn from anyone of any age. I'm hoping you and others in this forum will provide me with an education experience. BTW I'm close to 4 times your age. Imagine this, I used a slide rule in college.

As you and the response from "frankenwookie" suggest, the AM2 socket does sound intriguing. Wasn't aware of it. Besides the current status of 939 and AM2 lifecycles, can you (or someone else for that matter) tell me briefly or direct me to a website that will provide information on the functional differences between the two?

Much appreciated, thanks.
July 3, 2006 7:19:21 PM

Thanks for the response.

No you didn't make things hard, just more interesting. Actually, some of the fun in doing a homebuild (my last and only homebuild was 5 years ago) is in the frustration from the overwhelming number of options.

I gather from your and the previous response, one notch up on the video card would be beneficial. You also suggest an SLI type Mobo. Given that I have no need for SLI functionality, is there something special about a SLI mobo vs non-SLI mobo I should be aware of? That is, is the extra cost of SLI mobo worth it?

Thanks for your help.
July 3, 2006 7:56:40 PM

'nuff board drama, aye?

As for future proofing, I highly recommend you go with Socket AM2. I just bought an AM2 system mobo, with an AMD 3800 CPU (2.4Ghz clock). Make sure you buy Corsair XMS2 RAM (PC26400) if you go this way.

I plan to get an X2 in 6 months or do when the price drops. Getting a Socket 939 now doesn't make much sense (to me at least).
July 3, 2006 8:01:05 PM

Not really. Most of the high-end boards are geared toward SLI because they think people will buy into the technology more. I bought an SLI motherboard because the rest of it was what I wanted. I have little interest in it myself, but should I change my mind I only need a second card.

It's up to you, really. If you're in the high-end market, you'll be hard-pressed to find a board without SLI. Think of it as an option, not as something you'll regret - it's just a feature that you can either use or not use.
July 3, 2006 9:00:03 PM

Quote:
His post wasn't about you not knowing a website. It was about chastising you for misrepresenting your opinion as fact. This is a horrible practice, and a lot of communities would be better if it didn't exist. Rather than fight back/becoming defensive, just don't do it again.


I am very new to the PC world having been a console gamer for the last 25yrs. I was turned onto tom's hardware through a friend who told me to go here for advice. A few of the local retailers had told when purchasing my mobo and processor that were I not going to wait for AM2 that I would be better off with 939, because they and a few of the other retailers which I checked had limited inventory and support for 754. Your point is taken, my apologies once again. I meant no disrespect. I was simply going by what I had been told by retailers from what they had been told from their AMD reps.
I am truly sorry.
P.S. I am 30 if that matters.
July 3, 2006 9:15:34 PM

I went for the Asus A8N32-SLI simply because it supported SLI if i ever wanted or could afford to go that route. It would also offer dual x16 PCI-E slots for future use. I will pick up dual core processor in bit , so that I can have the ability to better multi-task when I start working on my home music project.
July 3, 2006 10:46:42 PM

Quote:
I am very new to the PC world having been a console gamer for the last 25yrs. I was turned onto tom's hardware through a friend who told me to go here for advice. A few of the local retailers had told when purchasing my mobo and processor that were I not going to wait for AM2 that I would be better off with 939, because they and a few of the other retailers which I checked had limited inventory and support for 754. Your point is taken, my apologies once again. I meant no disrespect. I was simply going by what I had been told by retailers from what they had been told from their AMD reps.
I am truly sorry.
P.S. I am 30 if that matters.


You are jovially forgiven, BTW, I have some fault in it too. :) 

P.S., as i said before, I'm almost 14, so i take no offense at anyone, including you.

PS. Beware of retailers and their AMD reps!!! :) 
July 3, 2006 10:57:12 PM

The 6800XT is a severly crippled card, carrying less pipelines than a 6800 or a 6800GT, i suggest going for the 6800GT, more pipelines and vertex shaders. and not too much more money to spend either.
July 4, 2006 5:46:42 PM

Quote:

I am very new to the PC world having been a console gamer for the last 25yrs. I was turned onto tom's hardware through a friend who told me to go here for advice. A few of the local retailers had told when purchasing my mobo and processor that were I not going to wait for AM2 that I would be better off with 939, because they and a few of the other retailers which I checked had limited inventory and support for 754. Your point is taken, my apologies once again. I meant no disrespect. I was simply going by what I had been told by retailers from what they had been told from their AMD reps.
I am truly sorry.
P.S. I am 30 if that matters.

Yeah, generally retailers will tell you just about anything to make a sale.
July 5, 2006 12:55:45 PM

I did some forum reading on the Asus website and a reoccuring theme in the discussions for the M2N-E and M2N32-SLI is memory compatibility issues. It appears that memory brand and model selection is critical. I also get the impression that the BIOS version is not yet there to easily take on the variety of DDR2 800 sticks.

Being a novice and tentative about tweeking with the BIOS alot (i.e. I know enough to be dangerous), are there any words from the wise on memory selection, in particular DDR2 800 selection? Also any feedback on my read of the Asus forum discussions?

The cool thing about the M2N boards is that it appears to solve the non-case questions in the original post. Thanks to "youse" for leading me down this path!!!
!